5 Practices to develop resilience in challenging circumstances

Written by Nick Ashley
12th February 2021
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We are receiving an increasing number of enquiries to develop leadership programmes that are entirely online. This is an indication that many of the companies we are working with are moving to a place of accepting that the pandemic is going to be around for a while. For most of us this is challenging. We long for the pandemic to lift so that we can socialise, travel, and gain some of the elements of our earlier lives. With this in mind, it is important that we develop resilience to both survive and thrive in circumstances that are not of our choosing. Five practices that help to develop a resilient mindset and spirit in the midst of challenging circumstances are:

1. Engage with the moment

When things don’t go according to plan, or more significantly, according to our expectations, it is tempting to engage with a way of living that waits for a better day. Today, and the next day are mainly about “getting through” rather than living. The challenge with this is that we have given up control, we are waiting for a better day to come but have no control over when that will happen. This lack of control is contrary to building resilience. Although circumstances may be far from ideal, it is important for us to engage with today, allow ourselves to be present rather than waiting for it to pass. A useful practice is to take a few minutes each day to consider what we are thankful for, this helps to centre us in the here and now.

2. Re-define purpose

One of the difficult things about the pandemic is that we are no longer able to do what we had planned. In a given period of time, we can’t achieve the goals we had set. At the beginning of last week, we were preparing to deliver a team build, our first one since February last year. On Wednesday we got the kit prepared, on Thursday, the lockdown conditions changed, the team build got cancelled and we put the kit away. This type of experience is discouraging.

We need to recognise our current climate and re-define goals that are realistic and achievable. It is not wise for us to build a set of goals based on running face-to-face team builds even though a significant part of our business was built on this before the pandemic. Instead, it is better for us to consider new solutions for team building built around online opportunities. The key to effective resilience is hope. Hope is not an emotion that slips into our being on sunny days but is the result of achievable goals and a defined path to them.

3. Build community

Challenging circumstances have a habit of creating isolation and lead us to a place of facing discouraging situations on our own. Being on our own may be a physical expression where we don’t have other people around us. However, more often, it is being isolated in the presence of the team or others. People are around but we are unable to be honest about the difficulties we have for fear of being judged or labelled. We take on the false idea that resilience is about individual toughness. If we can move towards vulnerability with each other and sharing what is really going on, we will create an opportunity to draw strength from each other and develop a communal resilience that is much stronger than that which we can develop through our own self-will.

4. Develop creativity

Part of being resilient is being able to push through the road-blocks we find ourselves facing to find new ways of doing things. For many of us, overcoming the difficulties we face now will provide new ways of doing things that will sustain us into the next season.

To find creative solutions to the difficulties we find ourselves in we need to clearly identify the current challenge (this can take courage) and then make time to meet with our teams and start the creative process. There is much to be said on how to structure and manage creative times but suffice to say that if you are able to meet together to fix a known problem you are making good progress.

5. Focus on values

What is important to us can easily be lost when the pressure is on. We say teamwork is a value but it quickly disappears when our businesses become challenged! We easily lose sight of what is important and our values that we’d spent time identifying disappear from our working lives.

To build resilience take time to re-establish values and then to live by those values. They provide a foundation for our strategy planning and daily decision making.  What is imperative here is taking ownership ourselves and making sure our lives line up. Essential to the successful development of resilience is a clear framework for decision making based on values as well as operational parameters. This provides a strong foundation to build resilience on, we know what is important.

Are you considering how to strengthen your team or engage with development opportunities when working remotely? Get in touch and see how we can help. 

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